Monster threw up his hands and a nice easy grin lit up his face. I never understood why people like him always got the good teeth gene. Probably a throwback to what what they were only a step or two evolved from.
"No problem Sarge. Everything is good. Why I..."
Sarge didn't smile. Instead he said "One more step asshole."
"Whoa now. Would it make you feel better if I stepped back?" He took a slow exaggerated step back. Still grinning he tilted his head and added "All better now?"
I would have shot him for that if I hadn't before. Looking at Sarge it was plain that he wanted too. Sarge was a good man but he was bound by the book and conditioning. Monster was gaming him and winning.
I checked the people waiting. They were watching calmly. A few were slowly edging away. One guy, a tall, young black man was watching Monster like you would a science experiment. The rest were curious with only a few showing nervousness. You didn't live to get to Zone admission station because you had bought a ticket. Somewhere along the line you had earned it.
Then the fed law enforcement guy spoke and changed the dynamic.
"Bought time you showed up Sledge. You decide to stop by an old folks home along the way?" He didn't say the last sentence any different than the first one. It meant something tho. The flush on Monsters face told me that. It was gone just as fast as it appeared. His reply was smooth. "Why hello Marshal. I should have known you would be the one to greet me. Back here in the rear with the gear and all."
"Yeah. It is a disgrace now isn't it. He stepped through the gap between the desks he was behind, told the NCO "At ease" and stopped a couple of feet in front. His right leg was shiny and skinny. It was also metal.
"Drag your sorry ass over here Sledge and lets get you and the girls processed."